For Lydia Meadows and Crystal Murley, good things come in threes. The couple first met at JR’s Bar & Grill eight years before they met again online through Match.com. JR’s was a non-starter, Lydia says, “Crystal was my bartender and I offered to buy her a drink. She politely declined. Then a few weeks later I saw her bartending again, so I slipped her my number on the bar tab. Never heard from her. Later, I found out that bartenders don’t really look at those tabs.”
Luckily, Match.com knew the women needed to meet even if Crystal didn’t get the hint at JR’s. The pair said they connected immediately over email once they matched on the site in 2015. When they finally decided to go out, they went for barbeque at Gabby’s on North Shepherd and were shocked to discover that they lived only two blocks from one another. “Lydia owns a home on the opposite side of the same street, and has for years—and we never crossed paths! Now that’s just crazy. The universe was laughing at us!”
When they got their barbeque and sat down, Crystal says she was in for a very big surprise. “I don’t know how to explain this, other than to say that Lydia began inhaling her food—both hands going, shoving food in her face as if she hadn’t eaten in a week. She would catch a breath and then go at it again. The moment was surreal to me.” Crystal loved it. She figured if Lydia could be totally herself and not put on the “first-date show” that so many people do, she had to be as self-assured and down-to-earth as a girl could be.
“In my head I thought, ‘I’m going to marry this girl,’” Crystal says. “Then I thought, ‘What the heck is wrong with me? This is our first date!’” But it was indeed that very first date when Crystal knew Lydia was the one.
Lydia says she knew she wanted to marry Crystal the day that marriage equality was passed into law. That morning, she says, “I had been texting my friend Chelsea about Crystal and told her that I knew I was going to marry her. Once the announcement came, I met Crystal for lunch. We both got a soda with our lunch, and hers said ‘Share a Coke with Your Soulmate.’ I mean, come on, universe! I hear ya! So that was that.”
Lydia decided to propose to Crystal at the mouth of the Grand Canyon. Despite being involved in a major car accident, Lydia flew to Las Vegas with Crystal to celebrate their four-year anniversary. “Crystal thought I was going to propose at dinner that evening. When it didn’t happen, I think she was surprised, but she understood.”
The next morning, they drove to the Grand Canyon. “Crystal did a majority of the driving through mountains and curves, which she hates.”
When they arrived at the park, Lydia tried to find a private spot—one that was “away from the edge of the canyon, in case either of us dropped the ring.” They ended up on a little overlook near the main path. Lydia said, “Babe, open this. I have a question.”
Crystal responded, “Ummm, okay. Wait, is this real? Are you for real?”
“Yes. You are my one. Will you marry me?”
Still unconvinced, Crystal repeated, “For real?”
“Of course,” Lydia said. “For real.”
The couple was married on February 29, 2020, in their backyard. “We had originally wanted to get married at the courthouse with a small dinner afterward with family. Once we looked at venues and prices, the guest list kept growing to where it was turning into a full-blown ceremony.” That’s when they realized the perfect spot would be their very own backyard. “It was amazing, once we made the decision, how everything came together.”
The ceremony also included Crystal’s oldest canine son, Bailey, who Crystal had had since he was a puppy. Gratefully, he held on long enough to be their ring bearer on the big day. The pointer and pit bull mix even got his very own boutonniere. “He grew up in the studio with Crystal and went everywhere with her. His approval was more important than anyone else’s,” Lydia says. Sadly, he passed away three months later.
The couple said they kept the whole wedding simple and sweet. “We left out the walking down the aisle part, and I really liked that. When our guests arrived in our backyard, we were there to greet them and visit before we cut the music and started the ceremony.”
One thing they knew they wanted for sure was roses and irises. “Roses represented Crystal’s grandmother, and irises represented my grandmother,” Lydia explains. Their vows, on the other hand, were not part of any plan. “We decided to ad lib our vows, [which made for] some pretty hilarious moments. And our officiant, Leslie Jenkins, found a wonderful reading about hands, and how we will continue to hold each other up and support one another for the rest of our lives.”
Their wedding cake was a unicorn cake made by Crystal’s sister-in-law that combined red and purple paintbrush strokes. And Dolly Parton’s “Pure and Simple” was their first dance song. Parton’s Pure and Simple Tour was one of the best concerts the pair says they ever attended together. “That concert made us feel like we were sitting on Dolly’s front porch, laughing and singing with her,” Lydia says. That night, they knew “Pure and Simple” would be their first dance at their wedding one day. “At the end of the night, we looked at each other and said this is exactly what we had wanted: a big party where we just happen to get married in the middle,” Lydia says.
When things “settle down” on the COVID-19 front, the couple says they will take off for a honeymoon in Greece. “Island hopping on the Greek Isles sounds like the perfect way to relax and enjoy the variety of things that the islands have to offer,” Lydia says.
If Crystal had just one chance to share with the world what makes Lydia so special, she says she would exclaim, “Lydia is an amazing woman on every level, and an incredibly talented actor. I am blessed to have such a wonderful woman as my wife.”
And Lydia is at no loss for words when it comes to explaining how she feels about Crystal. “Crystal is so compassionate. If someone needs help, she asks how she can help, and she shows up if she says she will do something. Her heart is one of the many things I treasure about her.”
This article appears in the November 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.